Skip to main content

Library Blog

Read all about it! Online news sources

by Lee Snook on 2020-06-02T09:33:00+01:00 in Law | Comments


The University has a wide range of online newspaper sources available, providing current and archive content from a wide range of countries.

You can access these news sources to examine coverage of topical events, but also do historical research through the newspaper archives.  These resources can be particularly useful at dissertation time for those studying in the humanities or social sciences, as they can reveal thinking at the time on topical issues of the day.

As well as newspapers, some of the news resources cover other sorts of content.  For example the Nexis UK service provides transcripts of radio and TV news broadcasting which can add an additional dimension to your news based research.

These online news sources are vast databanks of content so you need to plan your online searching carefully so that you are not overwhelmed by lots of irrelevant results.  You also need to be a little creative with your search terms as action grabbing headlines are typically used, especially in the popular press titles, and articles are not crafted in the same way as scholarly information such as academic journal articles.  So, searching for named people or events or organizations can be straightforward, but if you are searching more generally for a topic then you'll need to be prepared for a bit of trial and error and run a range of searches to capture everything you need.

The Search techniques guide is worth a look as that takes you through the various steps of pulling together an effective online search strategy.

Tip tips for online news searching ...


1. Make great use of the date range functionality

You can segment your searching into yearly or monthly segments if you ar finding lots of search results.  For example, my own masters dissertation looked at newspaper coverage of the principle of double jeopardy in law,  as reform was being mooted.  I chose a range of newspapers to examine and there was a huge amount of reporting about this as it was a very popular, emotive and contentious issue.  I searched each title separately and in yearly batches, before bringing all the results together for content analysis of the research.  This segmenting of the searching made the vast results more manageable - so be prepared to spend some time making the databases work for your particular research scenario.

2. Facsimile & Text formats

Some news sources (particular newspaper archive databases) appear in digitised facsimile form, i.e. as they appeared when published.  Early print copies have typically been scanned or photographed to produce the digital archive.  This format is particularly useful if you are interested in graphical aspects such as tables, photographs, and advertisements, etc. or if you want to compare things such as front page content across a range of newspapers on a particular day or range of days.

The current aggregate news services, such as Nexis UK and Factiva present more recent coverage across a range of news titles and sources.  These are not presented in facsimile format.  The text of the articles is available in a plain text format - and things like photographs and tables etc are not included.


3. Cross searching

Some of the news databases are available on platforms that permit cross searching across titles.  Whilst this is not always appropriate for in depth research, it is a great way to start some news searching.  You can quickly search a range of news databases for a topic/person and identify which news titles are likely to be the most fruitful for more in depth research.


4. Online Help / Tutorials

The newspaper database providers typically offer online help and/or tutorials to assist your research.  It is worth checking out these before you start your research so that you can see if there is any specific functionality that could be useful.  For example, some databases allow you to save searches to repeat periodically, and this is useful if you want to trace a topic in the press over an upcoming period.  Some databases will connect you with related databases on a  topic, so that you can move from your news research into an examination of related scholarly content.  Some databases provide a range of filters to assist with searching, e.g. focusing in on specific countries, regions or industries.  These can help you target your search at your specific research interest and save time by excluding irrelevant sources


5. Call on your Liaison Librarian for support with your news research

It can be tricky to develop an online search strategy that works for your research topic.  Your liaison librarian will be happy to assist you and help develop your search strategy and/or demonstrate some of the recommended databases and functionality to you.  Just get in touch if you find you are struggling with your news research and the team will be happy to help.


Quick Links


 Add a Comment



Enter your e-mail address to receive notifications of new posts by e-mail.


  Return to Blog
This post is closed for further discussion.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Contact Us